May 23, 2022
On May 19, the leaders of the House special committee investigating the January. 6 attack on the Capitol asked a Republican congressman to submit to questioning about a tour of the complex that he allegedly gave one day before the riot—saying they were looking into whether rioters had conducted reconnaissance of the building before the rampage, reports The New York Times.
In a Thursday letter to Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-Georgia), the top two members of the panel said investigators had obtained evidence that the Georgia Republican had led a tour through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021, when it was closed to visitors because of pandemic restrictions. Loudermilk has denied having led any “reconnaissance” tour.
“Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021,” said a letter to Loudermilk from Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the panel, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman.
They did not directly allege that any person escorted by Loudermilk later attacked the Capitol. But they suggested that they had obtained evidence that he had led visitors around the complex, writing that their review of evidence “directly contradicts” Republicans’ denials that closed-circuit security camera footage showed no such tours had taken place.
In a statement, Loudermilk conceded that he had brought constituents into parts of the Capitol complex the day before the riot, but he said the visit had been innocuous.
“A constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House office buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour.’ The family never entered the Capitol building,” Loudermilk wrote in a joint statement with Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, adding: “No place that the family went on the 5th was breached on the 6th, the family did not enter the Capitol grounds on the 6th, and no one in that family has been investigated or charged in connection to January 6th.”
The statement did not say whether Loudermilk would agree to meet with the panel to discuss the matter.
Research contact: @nytimes